Friday, 25 March 2011

" This is life " de Alexandre Ivonov Kitchev

What I am going to talk about today is very important to me.
I am going to tell you the story of Alexandre.

Alexandre lives on the street.
He is my sort of neighbor like he would say !
Every morning he sits on the bench next to the bakery where I buy my croissants every morning.

Alexandre comes from a little town called Vladiskovovo in Bulgaria.
The first time I saw him was the first day I moved in to my flat.
I was going in to the bakers and he gave a big smile and told me : " Have a good day Mademoiselle "
I thought, what a great smile and a nice thing to say.
So I bought him a croissant and since this day I bought him one every day.
I realized that I enjoyed shaking his hand and chatting with him.

So today I asked him if he would mind me interviewing him and taking a picture.
He answered laughing : " Oh today no problem, I'm not too busy this afternoon !
I'll met you on the bench at two o'clock ! "

Today was a beautiful day in Paris.
And there we were chatting for an hour in the sun.

Me: When did you arrive in France Alexandre ?
Alexandre: I arrived 8 months ago in Paris.

Me: How did you come to France ?
Alexandre: I came on foot with 10 other Bulgarians. It took us a month.
It was a long walk, but I like walking so it's okay.

Me: Why did you come to France ?
Alexandre: You know for business. For money. To find money and send it to my daughters and wife.
I found one little job but it didn't work out. And I had no idea how difficult it was to find lodgings in Paris.

Me: You have a family waiting for you in Bulgaria ? How old are your daughters ?
Alexandre: Yes I have my three little princesses in Bulgaria.
My oldest daughter is 14 and the youngest 9. I miss them very much.
They are so beautiful, bright and sweet. 
Like any father my dream is to pay them studies and get them out of Bulgaria.
But ... ( tears came up to his eyes) you know it's difficult but I'll get there.
I would give my life to help them. 
Next question please Ella.

Me: Is work really hard to find in Bulgaria ?
Alexandre: I had my own business back in Bulgaria . I had a driver business but there is too much corruption.
I had to leave Bulgaria because of the mafia. We don't talk about it enough.
In Bulgaria there is so much corruption, in politics, business ...
I had to leave because of those problems.
France is so much better, Sarkozy does a good job. And the people have been nice to me.
If only I could work here ...But I have no money to start a business.
And I don't have time, I spend the day trying to live already.

Me: Where do you live in Paris ?
Alexandre: I live in the Bois de Vincennes. I live with ten other Bulgarians.
We all have tents. I don't go in the houses for the poor because people steal your stuff.
It's too dangerous, at least in the park you're safe and it's legal.
And when there's sun, I love waking up and looking at the park. It's beautiful.

Me: You told me earlier on,  you were going back to Bulgaria on the 1st of April ?
Me: Yes, I asked help to the Aide aux emmigrés. They gave me 300 euros and paid my ticket back to my home. I am pleased to go back. Because I have a bit of money and I've solved certain problems in Bulgaria. I can't wait to see my children.

Alexandre: You see Ella, this is life. But I'm not cross with life.
Life is beautiful and I'm pleased to be part of it.

Alexandre was a beautiful rencontre.
He taught me a lot and I will miss him.
I will miss to have no one to chat to in the morning.
He is a brave and fantastic man.

I think we all have someone like that around us.
Just a chat makes a difference.

Today I showed an other face of Paris.
A beautiful face of Paris.


  1. Beautiful post! He's charming. I'm glad he gets to go back home though it's a pity he wasn't able to find a job in France and be able to help his family back in Bulgaria. He'll sure miss the croissant and talking to you.

  2. Je suis très fière de toi ma Ella, tu présentes un article, une interview et deux photos qui méritent d'être montrés et que peu de personnes auraient présentées, aussi bien et aussi sobrement.
    Je t'aime ma belle!

  3. Well done honey, your first interview - et quelle guele! Love the way you presented the subject and laid out the conversation for us.

  4. What a fantastic and well-written interniew Ella.
    I came over from your Mom's blog - I believe I met you at the Blogger meet-up in Paris in September.
    Take care,

  5. Wonderful, fabulous!! This brings tears to my eyes!! To think that this lovely person lives such a difficult unfair, so unfair! Thankyou Ella!! Well done!!
    p.s. I'm a friend of your Mom's

  6. You have wonderfully captured Alexandre's story with your interview and your photos. You have a wonderful gift in how you bring to others your stories. I don't normally read blogs but I am so enjoying your's and your Mum's. Your photos are incredible. I am an Australian francophile and will be travelling to France in 4 weeks time for 3 months. In the meantime, I am enjoying seeing it through your eyes.

    A minor point of feedback: it was difficult reading the centralised text on my Android phone. I acknowledge that not many people probably read it this way. On my laptop, there is no problem.

    Thank you too for the articles that you do in both French and English. I am using them to practise translations in both directions. I hope you don't mind. Having such lovely authentic text is so much more interesting than text books.

    Bonne continuation

  7. That was so touching, what a beautiful man. I can only admire a man who will do whatever it takes to care for his family. I pray that he has safe travels home and that he and his family prosper and live a safe and happy life together. Thank you for sharing his story. I can't think of anyone better for your first interview! xoxo

  8. That was wonderful captured the essence of the man in the photograph and his words. Well done! It looks like you are having a wonderful experience and that is what life is all about...keep looking, the next one will probably pop up in the most surprising place.


  9. Ella, this was very moving. Thank you for making a personal encounter so memorable for many others. Your photos are amazing. You have a great eye for detail and composition.

    My name is Kay and I live in the northwestern part of the US near Seattle. I came to your blog through your mom's and got to hers through the Graphics Fairy, I think. I hit so many links I'm getting confused! But I will mark your blog so I can read more about your very unique experience of Paris. Here is my blog in case you are interested:

    Thank you again. - Kay